Barcelona battering shows that Manchester United are light-years away from European elite
The Argentine was imperious once more as the Old Trafford side were humbled at Camp Nou in an exhibition of the gap between them and Europe’s best
We’ll always have Paris!
It never seemed likely that there would be a repeat dose of heroics for Manchester United as they headed to Barcelona on Tuesday, and Lionel Messi’s latest show of brilliance simply helped to underline just how far behind the head table of European football United really are.
Their 3-0 defeat in the Camp Nou was as chastening as it was predictable. Whereas Paris Saint-Germain were ripe for a mugging at the Parc des Princes last month, it would have been expecting far too much to ask them to deliver in quite the same way again.
For this was simply a demonstration of where Manchester United are in the grand scheme of things right now. They are plucky and determined but lacking in a defined vision and in serious need of a refresh.
This is not the team of 1999 which so memorably fought its way to glory on the very same Camp Nou surface, and Barcelona are no PSG bottle-jobs.
The Premier League club’s best hope was to launch a quick raid, but they couldn’t make their excellent start pay.
Marcus Rashford had hit the bar in little over 30 seconds after bursting beyond the Barca defence, and within minutes there was an opening for Scott McTominay. When Rashford again had the home side back-pedalling the striker slipped as he shot and the chance was gone.
One was left wondering whether the club would be made to pay for not taking those opportunities and it didn’t take long for Messi to ensure that Solskjaer’s side would indeed be left with a feeling of ‘What if?’
Much like Paris Saint-Germain’s exit in the previous round was largely their own doing, Man Utd had a huge hand in their own downfall. First, Ashley Young attempted a Cruyff turn rather than a simple back-pass barely 20 yards from his own goal having nearly lost the ball once already from a Manchester United free-kick seconds earlier.